EPL: The Last Five North West Derbies

The last five years of the North West Derby have seen Manchester United and Liverpool alternate control of England's premier rivalry. An October 2006 win at Old Trafford started a four match win streak for Manchester United, a run that saw them outscore Liverpool 7-0. That advantage was extended to eight goals when Carlos Tevez scored in the third minute at Anfield in September 2008, but starting with that match (and Liverpool's comeback), the Reds would run off three straight wins, finishing the aughts with the advantage on United. This decade, Alex Ferguson's regained control of the derby, carrying a three-match winning streak of his own into Sunday's match.

Noting it as a streak, while factually accurate, may imply more dominance than has actually existed. Manchester United's three victories have each been by one goal. During the Liverpool streak which came before, the Reds outscored the Devils by six goals. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Liverpool and United have split their six meetings, but Liverpool holds a +3 advantage in goal difference.

None of which is likely to influence Sunday's match as much as provide context for it. While the clubs have alternated control of this rivalry, United's current control is very tenuous, one that carries with it no psychological advantages. If anything, Liverpool's recent success against United combine with their recent close-calls provides motivation.

March 14, 2009 (Premier League): Manchester United 1, Liverpool 4
When Pepe Reina dragged down Park Ji-Sung early, giving Cristiano Ronaldo a chance from the spot, United looked set to make it four out of five over Liverpool, taking a lead in the 23rd minute. But that was the last reason United supporters had to smile, Liverpool posting their biggest win at United since Christmas Day's 0-3 in 1978. That day, it was Ray Kennedy, Kenny Dalglish and David Fairclough getting on the scoresheet. Two years ago, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard had the Reds up by halftime, and when Nemanja Vidic was dismissed in the 76th minute (the second of three consecutive derbies he'd see red), Liverpool was on track for their first win in five years at Old Trafford. Fabio Aurelio's direct kick and Andrea Dossena's only league goal completed United's embarrassment.



October 25, 2009 (Premier League): Liverpool 2, Manchester United 0
Liverpool entered the match with a four game losing streak, the start of Rafa Benítez's final season at the club. But this early season result against their rivals gave the Kop reason to hope the previous season's second place form would return. At a minimum, it affirmed Fernando Torres remained a United-slayer, scoring the match-winner in the 65th minute. David N'Gog would add insurance before Vidic and Javier Mascherano were dismissed, the second time in three derbies the Argentine was excused, in what would be Benítez's last win over United.



March 21, 2010 (Premier League): Manchester United 2, Liverpool 1
Five minutes in, it was Torres, again, heading Liverpool up in front of the Stretford End, hinting Liverpool was set to continue their control of their rivals. But Mascherano's discipline would again play a role, the midfielder giving United a penalty in the 12th minute after obstructing Antonio Valencia. Wayne Rooney equalized, helping staunch United's early wound. From there, it played out as a typical Red Devils' win, with Park Ji-Sung beating Glen Johnson to a Darren Fletcher cross in the 60th minute, the South Korean international heading home, ending Liverpool's three-match winning streak in the derby.



September 9, 2010 (Premier League): Manchester United 3, Liverpool 2
The clubs' first meeting of the 2010-11 season saw Dimitar Berbatov finally make an impact in the derby. After two years and four derbies in Manchester, Berbatov had yet to see his name on the scoresheet, something that changed minutes before halftime when the Bulgarian headed United in front. Early in the second half, the striker scored one of the best goals of his career, using his thigh to trap a cross from Nani before putting an overhead kick high into Pepe Reina's goal. Steven Gerrard would score in the 64th and 70th minutes to level the score, but Berbatov's performance would not be denied, completing his hat-trick in the 84th minute.



January 9, 2011 (FA Cup): Manchester United 1, Liverpool 0
Most were excited to see United and Liverpool drawn together in the FA Cup Third Round, but within half an hour, the match was defined by two controversial decisions. Dimitar Berbatov theatrics helped draw a second minute penalty against Daniel Agger, allowing Ryan Giggs to give United an early lead. Near the half-hour mark, Steven Gerrard saw deserved red for a two footed challenge on Michael Carrick, leaving Liverpool to fight for a goal against a United team content to protect their lead. In Kenny Dalglish's first derby since returning as Liverpool's manager, Howard Webb was the defining figure, a penalty kick and a sending-off seeing Liverpool out of the cup.

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